GIVEAWAY: Win tickets to the screening of the gay film ‘Cupcakes’

A048R1PYIsraeli filmmaker Eytan Fox (Jossi & Jagger) has turned his sights to comedy with his latest film, Cupcakes. Set in Tel Aviv, it tells the story of bored housewives who decide to enter a songwriting competition, with comical results. The local premiere screens as part of the Jewish Film Festival on Thursday, and we are giving away two tickets to see it. Simply be the first to email jones@dallasvoice.com with the subject line CUPCAKES to qualify! The screening — which will include a talk-back by Dallas Voice staffer David Taffet — is at the Studio Movie Grill at Spring Valley at 7 p.m., Sept. 11; you have to pick up your tickets by 6:30 p.m. to get a seat. The winner will be notified by 2 p.m. Wednesday. Enjoy and good luck!

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Competing for your confection

Not all gourmet cupcakes are created equal

Cupcake

LET ’EM EAT CUPCAKE | From top, Gigi’s, The Cupcakery and Sprinkles’ vanilla cakes vary in their potency of flavor. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

howard lewis russell  | Contributing Writer
hlewisrussell@aol.com

With the fanfare surrounding the arrival of Sprinkles in Dallas five years ago — and its concomitant gangbusters success — a proliferation of me-too cupcake markets inevitably followed.

So which is best? At nearly four bucks a cupcake (about $1 per bite) we decided on a side-by-side comparison of three flavors (vanilla, chocolate, lemon) was warranted. We chose three area competitors: Sprinkles, Gigi’s Cupcakes and The Cupcakery. Each was devoured with a glass of milk.

Let’s just say that all $4 cupcakes are not created equal.

First, the good news: All three cupcake purveyors were impeccably clean, their staffs professionally (even gregariously!) friendly. Were I going in for a surgical procedure rather than a cupcake, they’d each receive four stars.

Indeed, just entering through the doors of these aromatically sparkling stores would send Willy Wonka himself into a swoon.

Sprinkles’ currently offers 24 weekly varieties, although cleverly, not all of them are available every day of the week. Dark chocolate and vanilla are staples, but lemon is only available Mondays, Thursdays and Sundays; ginger lemon takes over the Wednesday citrus spot, while orange fulfills Tuesday’s vitamin C-craving patrons and lemon coconut pinch hits on Friday  (poor, busy Saturday gets left out completely).

The Cupcakery, with five locations including one across from the Crescent, offers 30 styles, including (as do all these confectionaries) seasonal and limited-edition flavors; it will also prepare sugar-free and vegan incarnations. (The Cupcakery’s most distinctive feature is its signature lounge and champagne bar “for sharing your favorite cupcakes on fine porcelain plates with silver forks . . . with that perfect glass of red wine or aged port.”)

Of the three, Gigi’s probably appeals most to children and an adult’s inner child. Each of Gigi’s cakes is topped with something kid-friendly swirled in among the frosting. Its version of vanilla, called “Wedding Cake,” has buttercream frosting sprinkled with white nonpareils; the “Midnight Magic” chocolate is showered with cocoa chips; the “Lemon Dream Supreme” beacons with sparkly yellow sugar crystals and candied lemon slice. Gigi’s also has a loyalty program, offering one free cupcake for every dozen purchased.

That’s all good, but none scored a home run, though two came close.

Sprinkles and Gigi’s chocolate and vanilla cupcakes both received four stars out of a possible four from our two-man panel, while their lemon varieties garnered three stars each. Sprinkles’ lemon was a trifle skimpy on citrus flavor (although the frosting had a tart punch), while Gigi’s lemon faltered with a curd filling that tasted slightly canned (though the lemon jelly-wedge atop was a whimsically delightful flourish).

The Cupcakery’s highest score on any of its three cakes was a disappointing two, bestowed on its chocolate, despite a distinctly weird under-taste (one of us described it as raw, Swiss Miss cocoa; the other felt it tasted bizarrely metallic). The Cupcakery’s one-star vanilla came with an inexplicable pink frosting that tasted, oddly, of nothing but the color pink, while the cake itself had no discernable vanilla flavoring to speak of. Its lemon cupcake was … well, the best said is that it was at least unmistakably yellow (neon/saffron yellow) with watery frosting.

In a world competing to sell cake at $1 per bite, one’s bite-of-cake experience had better darn well be every bit as delicious, or more so, even, than sex itself.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 10, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas

Dallas baker wins Food Network challenge

To a pastry chef, the term “piece o’ cake” probably pisses you off. (Don’t even get ‘em started on “easy as pie.”) Cake is hard! Especially when you’re trying to impress the judges on a national network, commemorating the re-release of the most popular animated film of all time.

But Dallas’ Bronwen Weber of Frosted Art Bakery and Studio made it look, well, like a piece o’ cake Sunday night, when she won the Food Network’s Lion King-themed bake-off.

Weber’s dynamic interpretation of the villainous Scar in mid-leap bested all the other competitors, with the show airing the second weekend when the new 3D Lion King claimed the No. 1 spot at the weekend box office.

This is nothing new for the gay-friendly Weber, who last year designed “pride cake” cupcakes with rainbows and HRC symbols. She has won 14 medals from the Food Network, including eight first-place citations — three more than her nearest competitor. The episode airs again tonight at 7 p.m.

You can find Weber’s treats at FrostedArt.com.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Sprinkles rolls out 2 new cupcakes for March

You get an abundance of options at Sprinkles this week — more so than even on a usual week. The gourmet cupcakery is revealing two new flavors. The first, available only tomorrow, is a green velvet cupcake, for helping you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with a little flamboyance. Of course, red velvet cake is merely chocolate cake with tons of food coloring; I’m assuming the same is true for green velvet, although the color takes, uhh, an adjustment.It’s really green.  Really. But tastes just as good as what you’ve come to expect from Sprinkles.

Then later in the month, you can go back to red velvet with a little Red Cross topper thrown in. From March 27 through April 1, 100 percent of the proceeds from this version of the classic go to the American Red Cross.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

A Christmas memory: Sharla’s goodies

This time of year, it’s hard to walk into the office breakroom and not encounter free food: Turkeys, hams, cookies, brownies, popcorn, doughnuts, cupcakes, dropped off by business associates or left over from holiday celebrations held by others in the office. It’s addictive and bad for you but always welcome.

But this year, also a little sad.

I walked into the breakroom a few minutes ago to see an empty container than once housed homemade brownies — none of which I got. I immediately had a pang of anger. “Did Sharla bring by her goodies and everyone get to them before I found out?” I thought for a brief second. And then I remembered: No, she did not. Sharla died last week of brain cancer.

I did not know Sharla well. She worked part-time as a driver for Dallas Voice for many years, though she didn’t spend much time in the office unless she was filling in for her wife, Maryann Ramirez, who for ages was the distribution manager for the Voice. Maryann was (and is!) a strong personality who always seemed tamed by Sharla’s sweetness. Maryann talked so affectionately to Sharla on the phone (her work station was outside for a long time), and about Sharla around the office.

Every Christmas — and truth be told, other holidays too, or for no occasion at all — Maryann would bring in baked goods Sharla had made for all of us. She wasn’t in the office to share them with us; it was a totally selfless gift. And while I always said thank you and tried never to take her generosity for granted, this year it resonates with me especially knowing that era is over. No more treats from Sharla. This is sad for me and everyone else in the office; but I can hardly imagine what it is like for Maryann.

This is a difficult time of year to suffer loss: The holidays magnify everything, and it’s having free time and exchanging gifts is something a lot of people look forward to, so to have that experience cut short is especially heartbreaking (particularly since everyone else around you seems to be so happy). I broke up with an ex with finality on Christmas Eve years ago — that was hard. But to lose a partner like Maryann lost Sharla is unfathomable to me.

It’s easy to get lost in yourself this time of year, to attach too much significance to material things. But I will spent part of my time this season thinking about what I did not get: Sharla’s brownie bars. And that will make the holiday more important to me.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Come Out for Gay Cupcakes

Radio Now’s The Scotty Show is holding its first annual Gay Cupcake Party tomorrow, a week after the co-owner of an Indianapolis establishment refused to make rainbow-themed treats for a college diversity group’s National Coming Out Day celebration.

According to The Advocate, the co-owner of the business cited family values as the reason for refusing the college students.  The business owner told a local reporter: “I explained we’re a family-run business, we have two young, impressionable daughters and we thought maybe it was best not do that.” The co-owner went on to say “We have our values, and you know, some things … for instance, if someone wants a cookie with an obscenity, well, we’re not going to sell that.”

The incident has prompted a wave of support from the Indianapolis community – both gay and straight. A spokesman says Mayor Greg Ballard was “dismayed” by the bakery’s refusal to serve the students, calling it “unacceptable.” Ballard has ordered an investigation – the cookie retailer is located in the publicly owned City Market.

The reaction presents an opportunity to open a dialogue on LGBT discrimination, and the importance of educating businesses in Indianapolis regarding compliance with the city’s human rights ordinance. A friend of one of the customers agreed, telling Fox 59: “I don’t want to topple anybody at all. I just think it’s important we ask ourselves and that [the business] asks themselves why they made the statement, why they’re making these choices and how it’s ultimately affecting their business and the community as a whole.”

HRC and Indiana Equality will be thanking the mayor for his support of non-discrimination at the event, and have placed an ad in the Indianapolis Star for Friday. Indiana Equality works to end discrimination in the state through activities like community engagement and mobilization, and a speakers’ bureau.

Show your support for ending discrimination by checking out the Gay Cupcake Party on Facebook, or in person if you’re local. And, in advance of National Coming Out Day, HRC offers an array of resources for coming out or supporting a loved one. If you’re in Indiana and want to help combat discrimination, check out Indiana Equality and see how you can make a difference.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  John Wright

Indianapolis Mayor Wants To Know Why Just Cookies Won’t Serve Gay Cupcakes to College Kids

Hoping to score some rainbow cupcakes to celebrate next month's National Coming Out Day, the gays at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis were told by local bakery Just Cookies it couldn't complete the order because, as owner David Stockton told a reporter, "we're a family-run business, we have two young, impressionable daughters and we thought maybe it was best not to do that." (David's wife, meanwhile, says the bakery doesn't even make cupcakes.) Now the mayor and a local radio show are involved. Yikes!

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—  John Wright

Indy Bakery Won’t Make “Gay” Cupcakes

RainbowCupcakesx390 (Photos.com) | Advocate.comAn Indianapolis bakery refused to make an order of rainbow cupcakes and cookies requested by a local gay student group for National Coming Out Day.
Advocate.com: Daily News

—  John Wright

Dumbest homophobic mess EVER: Indianapolis bakery offended by rainbow cupcakes

why. Why. WHy. WHY?????? Read and weep and laugh. (Change.org)

Looking for some cupcakes or cookies with rainbow frosting on them, to celebrate National Coming Out Day? Don’t head to Just Cookies in Indianapolis. The bakery, inside Indianapolis’ City Market, refused to accept an order from a gay student group at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI). Why?

According to the man who owns the bakery, rainbow cupcakes and cookies celebrating LGBT pride violate the values of the bakery.

“I explained we’re a family-run business, we have two young, impressionable daughters and we thought maybe it was best not to do that,” said co-owner David Stockton to a local Fox television station. He then added that it’s his bakery’s decision to decide what is obscene. Apparently rainbow colors fall under that label. “We have our values, and you know, some things … for instance, if someone wants a cookie with an obscenity, well, we’re not going to do that.”

So rainbow sprinkles, which have been around for eternity, are part of the devil’s design to spread homosexuality?

Mike Signorile and I were IMing when this blew by on Hootsuite (where I monitor Tweets and FB feeds). The possibilities for discrimination are endless for this bakery:

* he only makes white cupcakes

* chocolate cupcakes represent affirmative action

* red velvet cupcakes are Native American, if you add cream cheese frosting, does that make it Jewish?

* what about mixed bundt cakes – is that miscegenation?

You get the idea. The whole thing is mind-numbingly dumb. My brain cells are dying just contemplating someone this bigoted and stupid.
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright